The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Naples National Archeological Museum) was founded by King Charles III during the second half of the 18th century. He converted a cavalry barracks in one of the most important Italian museum.
The museum houses a unique collection of Roman antiquities. The majority of the pieces showcase in the museum came from the Farnese Collection. This collection is very important because includes many copies of ancient Greek sculptures otherwise lost. In the last few years a part of these statues have been moved to the Museo di Capodimonte.
Many of the sculptures has forged our perception of mythological figures, like the Farnese Hercules, or have taught us how the ancient have seen the western constellations (the Farnese Atlas). The massive Farnese Bull is considered the biggest single ancient sculpture ever found.
A lot of this statues once were located in the Caracalla Bath in Rome.
Famous all around the world are the unique Herculaneum papyri that survived the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD. In the same villa where the papyri were found a beautiful collection of bronzes was discovered too.
From Pompeii where brought here many stunning mosaics.
The museum houses a large collection of Egyptian artifacts; most of these pieces come from two different sets: the Cardinal Borgia’s and the Picchianti’s.
Under the Bourbon Monarchy, another collection was added to the museum: the one hosted in the Secret Cabinet. This collection has a unique story: the pieces showcases came from Pompeii and Herculaneum and for years they were hidden because of their erotic and sexual nature. At the beginning only adult people could visit the rooms, later to avoid to be considered lascivious the collection was locked up.
Only when Garibaldi conquered the city the door of this secret rooms were opened again. However it took more than a century to completely open it to the public. Visitors under the age of 14 can only entered the rooms with an adult.